Monday, September 22, 2008

September 22 Meeting: Con-Con, How YOU can make a difference

ConCon panel

Click here to listen.

Panelists, left to right: Ira Rohter, Peter Kay, Jim Shon

“This was a really outstanding panel discussion….” T.J.Davies

Jim Shon: A “yes” vote in November for a Constitutional Convention, will require the legislature to decide: • How many delegates will there be and from how big a district. •What should they be paid to cover per diem, housing, airfare? How much can the delegate afford if there is no per diem? •Where will the convention be held, how much will that cost, can the public have easy access? • Should the delegates have an office and where? Same as where meeting are held? Cost? • When will the election of delegates be held- November or special election? When will the Con-Con be held? What kind of ballots, internet or mail in? What year? How to engage people to want to become delegates. •There must be research and public education prior to presenting recommendations to public for vote. Where? How? There are alternate models for a Con-Con: a Constitution Commission, the legislature can hold a mini con-con considering only 2-4 issues.

Ira Rohter: A Con-Con is an opportunity to decentralize power: home rule for counties, school districts, and housing. Now things can’t be done quickly. More people would be involved in decisions that affect them. Would like to have 102 delegates for a people’s convention that would be more participatory. Delegates should have reasonable salary, staff paid through public funding. Study groups should be organized immediately after the election and they should prepare white papers with plan A and plan B on how to carry out recommendations. Advise neighborhood workshops, town hall meetings for planning and candidate training. We need time to think through how we want government to be. How does it work? What do you want to change? The choice is to continue to complain or should we participate.

Peter Kay: The use of neighborhood boards and the internet are wonderful venues to disseminate information. It is a monster decentralized system, open to innovation because there is no regulation. His blog, is now asking “Do you think it is time for our citizens to overhaul the government?” The most popular topic on his blog is education. If Neighborhood Boards had decision making powers, they could be used more to make changes. The Internet could be used to educate public about recommendations before a vote. Going to meetings physically takes at least two hours away from busy people. There would be more involvement of citizens in the con-con process by using the Internet to take polls on the issues being discussed. Rolling polls would mirror what’s going on so delegates know what people are thinking. One caveat: Internet users don’t necessarily show up at the polls.

Comments: There is not any discussion in the media that is mostly concerned with the economic crisis and the presidential election. Rail is most local issue. There is no paper version of the Hawaii State Constitution available. It can only be viewed and printed out from the internet-all 47 pages. Groups “against” a Con-Con will be more vocal. Issues that can be considered: appointed BOE, initiative/referendum, county home rule, OHA, state workers unions.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

September 22 Program: Con-Con, How YOU can make a difference

MONDAY, September 22, 2008

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Miyama Main Hall, Harris United Methodist Church
Nuuanu Ave. and South Vineyard Blvd.

Ample parking - driveway off Nuuanu Ave.


11:30 Luncheon: Various Sandwiches, Salad, Drinks, Dessert by Eloise
$5.00 Donation

11:45 Welcome: Introductions and remarks, Larry Geller, President

12:00 Program: Panel discussion: “Con-Con, How YOU can make a difference”
Jim Shon, former legislator and delegate to 1978 Con-Con

Peter Kay, Blog, Waikiki Neighborhood Board #2 member,

Ira Rohter, Political Science Professor, UH Manoa

12:45 Questions and Answers

1: 00 Adjourn

Community Calendar

From the Kokua Council September newsletter:

September 19,20, 21
. 8:30-4:30 each day, Free. Seniors’ Fair, The Good Life Expo, Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. 300 exhibit booths, flu shots, travel, health, nutrition, contests and much more.

October 1,8,15,22,29 Nov, 5
, 6-8pm, $30, KCC, Kopiko, Room 127-128. Family Caregiver Training Series. Skills that are needed for caregiving and decision making, including dementia. Call 734-9211.

October 4, 8:30-3 pm. Free. KHON’s Elderhood Project. 2nd Annual Aging in Place Workshop, Ala Moana Hotel, Hibiscus Room. Learn more about elder care options.

November 1, 8-3:30pm. $45 for family & volunteer caregivers, $60 professionals. Hawaii Caregiver’s Conference. “Caring for Family, Caring for Yourself”. Breakout sessions, resource fair, self-care. Register by October 21, 768-7700. Sponsored by Elderly Affairs Division. Keynoters, Dr. Bill Thomas of the Eden Alternative, Jennie Chin Hansen, AARP National President,

Check here for scheduled meeting announcements

Check this website (or subscribe via email or RSS, see the right column) for meeting announcements not only of Kokua Council itself, but also of related organizations that wish to post here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

CBO says Social Security healthy and viable for decades to come

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report stating that Social Security is in good financial shape and will continue to be so for decades to come. The report, which forecasts out 75 years, finds that while the accumulating surpluses in the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2049, ongoing revenues will still be sufficient to fund about 81% of promised benefits at the end of the 75-year period (in 2082). The reason given is that wages and Social Security revenues will continue to grow as the economy grows. The trust fund will cushion the large baby boom retirement, as it was designed to do, but most benefits will continue to be funded by direct transfers from workers to retirees, as they are now.

In a policy memo outlining the CBO’s findings, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) think tank noted the report’s finding that “future Social Security beneficiaries will receive larger benefits in retirement...than current beneficiaries do, even after adjustments have been made for inflation.” According to the CBO projections, Social Security is in decent shape, because - without any changes at all - the projected long-term Social Security shortfall equals a mere 1% of taxable payroll. EPI further states that the biggest problem facing Social Security is not the boomer retirement, but growing income inequality, which increases the share of untaxed earnings above the taxable earnings cap (currently set at $102,000). “Social Security has been a great success for 73 years, and it will be a great success for the next seventy-five,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance of Retired Americans. “Of course, that is provided no one alters the core principles on which it is based by privatizing it.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Family Leave Working Group meeting

The Family Leave Working Group will meet Friday, September 12, 2008 at 1:00pm in Hawaii State Capitol Room 224. The public is welcome.

The Working Group was established by Act 243, 2008 to explore the provision of wage replacement benefits to employees who need to take time off from work to care for a family member with a serious health condition. The agenda will cover a review of sunshine law requirements; a review of the Legislative Reference Bureau's Report No. 1, 2007: Selected Issues in Work-Family Policy: A Brief Overview; review the paid family leave program research findings of the Joint Legislative Committee on Family Caregiving that was conducted during the 2007 legislative interim; and review paid family leave bills in California, Washington, and New Jersey.

Persons who wish to submit testimony or have questions are asked to contact Representative Marilyn Lee's office at 586-9460. A copy of the hearing notice can be found at: